Dr. Braden Kuo of Massachusetts General Hospital experimented with instant noodles. He used a camera, the size of a pill, to find out what happens when the body digests pre-cooked noodles. The resulting video showed that the noodles were still largely intact after two hours. While the noodles remain in the stomach, so do all the noodles’ additives, including toxic preservatives like tertiary-butyl hydroquinone.
TBHQ prevents oxidation of fats and oils and is commonly found in processed food. McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Wheat Thins and Teddy Grahams all contain TBHQ.
The Consumer’s Dictionary of Food Additives reported that 1 gram of TBHQ can cause adverse effects, including nausea, vomiting, ringing in the ears, delirium and a sense of suffocation.
Prolonged exposure to TBHQ can cause biochemical changes and affect liver and reproductive function.
A 2014 study in medical periodical The Journal of Nutrition concluded that women in South Korea who ate more instant noodles were more likely to suffer from metabolic syndrome. The symptoms of which include obesity, high blood pressure, high blood sugar and low levels of HDL cholesterol, which is considered the “good” cholesterol.
“Although instant noodle is a convenient and delicious food, there could be an increased risk for metabolic syndrome given [the food’s] high sodium, unhealthy saturated fat and glycemic loads,” said Harvard doctoral candidate Hyun Shin.
People who have metabolic syndrome are at an increased risk of developing diabetes and heart disease.
Instant noodles also contain high levels of monosodium glutamate, an excitotoxin that can cause damage or death to nerve cells by over-stimulating them. Damaged nerve cells are a factor in the development of debilitating neurological conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and ALS.
Lisa Young, a nutritionist and professor at New York University, said she hopes people keep these things in mind the next time they go to buy a package of instant noodles.
“Instant noodles are high in fat, high in salt, high in calories and they’re processed — all those factors could contribute to some of the health problems [the study] addressed,” Young said. “That doesn’t mean that every single person is going to respond the same way, but the piece to keep in mind is that it’s not a healthy product, and it is a processed food.”
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